Here is another runner-up from my Summer Flash Fiction Contest. All entries were based on the theme “I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.”
#2 is by Josh Sczykutowicz.
You Always Smelled Like Flowers
I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over. Your ghost follows my footsteps before I even make them everyplace I seem to go. I can hear the echo of you; see the memory start to reform before my very eyes. But they say memories get farther from the truth each time you have them, and I can’t recall the last time I wasn’t seeing yours. Maybe that skirt never was blue, maybe you didn’t paint your nails black all the time. But it’s all I see before me, colors and hues of what used to be you bleeding like paint into the air all around. When you dance and spin, locks of black and cloth of red fill the sky, rising and ascending like twirls and swirls of the strongest smoke. You haunt me, and I let you.
I watch movies in empty theatres with you at my side, tossing popcorn through the fog of your head. I try to wrap arms around you at night, but they cling to the pillows you used to lay on instead. I watch you bathe in the shower, not knowing you no longer belong. I don’t want you to notice. I don’t want to lose this, too. Stay with me here. Remember until the memory is so far from the truth that reality is simply suggested. Cling to me like the paint you placed on canvases left behind on my bedroom floor.
You stick to me when I touch you, colors leaking into my skin like tattoo ink but it only smears and stains. You did not sink deep enough into the skin to make a lasting impression this time. There were tattoos that lined your arms, I remember, but now the designs seem further from the truth again. Why can’t I remember these things? I should have never let you leave. I should have never let you do this to yourself, or become this for me. The morning you exited the door and entered that car you became another person, a person I had never known could be, and this ghost of who you once were follows me now, flickers and shadows, material and immaterial, gorgeous as ever.
There were thickets and there were brambles and there were shrubs and left behind in the yard you used to tend to with me, but gardening was always your hobby, and never my own. There is so much we used to do, and I try to put the shovel into your translucent hands, but all I get is the dull thud of wooden handle and metal edge on compacted earth beneath. You always smelled like flowers, but now you smell like rain.
Thanks to all who sent their flash fiction pieces into the contest.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow I post the grand prize winner who will receive $100!